Naru's Happy Travel
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2005.24.57
Visionary Landscape in Coleridge and Yeats
,

Pusan Univ.
Abstract
Although Yeats declares himself as "the last romantics," it is highly controversial to situate him in the romantic tradition inaugurated by Coleridge's and Wordsworth's theories of the imagination. It is my argument that whereas the romantics often takes the natural landscape as referential and as a means for visionary ends, Yeats makes use of the same landscape to bring divine voices into existence. Among the great romantics I take Coleridge for my argument, since like Yeats he directs his endeavors to the supernatural. In Coleridge's "The Nightingale: A Conversation Poem," the narrator attempts to articulate the experience of nature in an unmediated form, without projection of one's desire onto nature. He attempts to vision of the harmonious correspondence to nature first in "gentle Maid" and then his baby. The question remains open, however, whether a perceived harmony expressed in the poem is also limited and confined by the fragmentary view of the narrator himself. In "Frost at Midnight" the narrator finds himself cut away from the outside world. As an answer to his emptiness he projects onto his son the harmonious state in which the outer world corresponds to the inner world of the child's feelings. The narrator's dependence upon a futuristic vision leaves the question of whether the vision is an expression of an epiphany of the truth perceived or merely a projection of his desire to escape his being disconnected from the outer world onto his son.
Vacillation between perception and imagination, which often occupies Coleridge's poetics, suffers much shift in Yeats who with much hesitation turns his attention away from complex dialectic between mind and nature or from choosing one over the other. A part of The Wandering of Oisin shows us well that the image of the shell there is only a mirror for a dream which is no longer that of the shell but the subjective dream of the poet's imagination. To the extent that the shell is a thing in nature, however, the image remains in essence natural, But Yeats already attempts to escape the danger ingrained in the fusion of the perceived object and the perceiving consciousness into one as early as in 1990. In "The Symbolism of Poetry," Yeats makes it clear that his symbol is not simply to evoke its inexhaustible traditional meanings but an intangible reality of the divine essence. Yeats intends to write divine voices into existence and to rediscover the long-unity between man and the gods. Yeats's poetics will be allegorical because the meaning of the symbol is revealed by a key and this key is given as the divine order itself. But it may be realistic in order to make certain that the symbols will be easily recognized and read. This is explicit when Yeats openly tells us that a natural object in a landscape is also to be read symbolically as in "Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931" where Yeats makes the divine symbol fit neatly within the picture of the concrete scene as well as in the network of the symbol. His main purpose for the natural landscape here is to constitute the divine symbols and gain their deeper structural unity and most of their intellectual content by writing divine voice into existence, by recording the signals that reach him from a divine realm.

 



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